Divorce: What it is and the Divorce Process

If you and your spouse are considering divorce, then know that you’re not alone. In 2017, nearly one million couples in the United States decided to go their separate ways.

Divorce is unique, and each experience is different. In many cases, this type of separation can be a solution to a marriage that no longer functions. Unfortunately, divorce can be a lengthy and emotional process.

But divorce doesn’t have to be a hassle with the right divorce attorneys at your side. Your attorney can help you understand the process and laws, including how mediation may help you avoid appearing in court and what to do if you both have children or shared accounts.

What is Divorce?

Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage by a court or other competent body. The divorce process is intended to terminate a marriage or union, which may cancel or reorganize the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage.

Although divorce laws vary throughout the country, it usually involves reorganizing and solving issues, such as:

  • Division of Property
  • Child Custody
  • Child Support
  • Spousal Support
  • Retirement Benefits

Often, it is best if both parties hire an attorney in order to achieve a fair and equitable outcome.

Reasons Couples Get Divorced

Divorce usually comes down to a few reasons. According to a study, there are several common causes why couples may choose to get a divorce, including:

  • Infidelity
  • Incompatibility
  • Substance Abuse
  • Financial Issues
  • Domestic Abuse

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In Indiana, you are given a choice to choose between two types of divorce, which are:

  • A no-fault divorce is an “irretrievable breakdown,” which could include infidelity, financial issues, or simply growing apart.
  • A fault divorce is due to a felony conviction, impotence during the marriage, or incurable insanity for at least two years during marriage.

In some cases, couples may choose to get a legal separation as a “cooling period” instead of or before deciding to legally divorce.

“Separation” Versus” Divorce

If divorce is on your mind, it’s best to understand the difference between a legal separation and a divorce. Sometimes, depending on the couple and issues at hand, a couple may decide to get separated instead of filing for divorce.

If you’re unsure which one you and your spouse need, then here is the simple explanation:

  • A legal separation is a court order that mandates the rights and responsibilities of a married couple while they are still married but are living apart. In Indiana a legal separation is valid for one year, but can be “renewed”. Of course the couple can reunite anytime.
  • A divorce is when a court finds that the existing marriage relationship is irretrievably broken and dissolves the marriage and the Court restores the spouses to the state of unmarried persons (i.e. single).

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a civil alternative to litigation. Some counties in Indiana require mediation to occur before they can request a final hearing in front of a Judge.

Mediation is a process in which both parties involved in a dispute try to find a fair solution to their issues with a neutral third-party trained in conflict resolution.

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If both parties can agree to be civil, mediation is generally quicker, less expensive, and a more cordial way to finalize a divorce. Some couples who are not divorcing, may consider mediation to help resolve issues.

The Divorce Process

The exact divorce process varies from state to state. If you’re not sure what the process entails, here is a simple rundown of what you can expect in Indiana.

Step #1: Residency Requirements

The first step to filing for divorce is making sure one of you meet the residency requirements, which are:

  • Be a resident of Indiana for the past six months
  • Be a resident of the County where you file for the past three months, or
  • Be stationed at a U.S. military base within Indiana

Step #2: Filing Petition for Divorce

Once you’ve filed the paperwork, your divorce will not be finalized for at least 60 days. This is often called the provisional period to allow you and your spouse to reach an agreement about the next steps.

During the sixty days, you may request to go before the judge to put rules in place until you and your spouse reach an agreement. You both may also attempt to negotiate a settlement, such as how to divide property, handle child support, custody, and visitation rights.

Step #3: Final Order and Decree

Once agreements are made in court, the judge will issue you a Final Order and Decree. Once this has been received, you are officially divorced.

Later down the line, you can readdress issues like child custody, visitation, and support.

Documents Needed for Divorce

When filing for a divorce in Indiana, you will need to file a number of documents with the Clerk of the Courts. They include, but are not limited to, these documents:

  • Appearance
  • Summons
  • Petition for Dissolution of Marriage

If you have children, then you will need to file additional documents with the Court.

Divorce Documents When Children are Involved

If children are involved, most Indiana counties require you both attend a class called Children Coping with Divorce, or a similar type program.

Additionally, if you have children together you and your spouse will need to address issues related to custody, child support and parenting time in any settlement agreement, mediation, or final hearing. Types of custody you’ll want to consider include:

  • Joint Physical Custody
  • Sole Physical Custody
  • Joint Legal Custody
  • Sole Physical Custody

If you’re unable to agree, a competent mediator will help you work through these issues. If you are still unable to reach an agreement, a judge will hear both your sides and decide for you at a Final Hearing.

Conclusion

Divorce is sometimes the only solution to solve problems within a dysfunctional marriage. It should be filed when a couple decides that they no longer want to be married. Divorce allows for the cancelation or separation of specific marital duties.

Before filing, it’s best to become familiar with the divorce laws in Indiana. Your divorce attorney can work with you throughout the process.

If you are going through a divorce in Indiana, consult with a divorce attorney today.

James Emerson

About the Author

James Emerson

Named as one of the Top 100 Civil Attorneys in Indiana by the National Trial Lawyers Association in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. JR Emerson is a skilled litigator and the former Judge of the Whitestown Town Court after being elected in 2010 and 2014.
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